Tag Archives: Trainee

Breaking Records at Bradenham

Hi, I’m Davina and I work in the corporate tax department of the Reading IQ office. Even though I only joined Grant Thornton three months ago, I have already had a lot of very different experiences which is great! These include the national induction in London for two days, two courses at Bradenham Manor (our internal training facility), college for my ACA exams as well as working in the office. I thought I’d write a bit about the first course I attended at Bradenham called ‘Breaking Records’.

For those of you who don’t already know, Bradenham Manor is near High Wycombe and is where Grant Thornton house all their internal training courses. The site has everything you could possibly need on your door step, including accommodation, a games room and bar. So along with the studying element, the social aspect of Bradenham is really good! I have met so many other trainees from different offices all over the country, who I am regularly in touch with, so it’s a great opportunity to network. On the rare occasion that we are blessed with some sunshine (likely I was!), the grounds look exceptionally beautiful.

‘Breaking Records’ is the first course that new trainees will attend at Bradenham, and is essentially an introduction to book-keeping. The week and a half long course introduces the basis of accountancy and book keeping and can be quite intense at times. But don’t panic, you don’t need to have any prior accountancy experience (most trainees don’t) and everything is taught from the ground-up. The course is taught by Grant Thornton staff from a variety of service lines, and because they have been through it all before they are really supportive and always willing to help. Initially, I struggled to grasp some of the basic concepts which can be frustrating, but my tutors were extremely patient and went the extra mile to explain things in different ways to assist my understanding.

There is plenty of practice questions so that you can really get to grips with it all and when you do, it feels very rewarding! The Breaking Records course provided me with a really strong foundation for my first ACA accounting exam, and was well prepared when I went to college for the tuition.

There are lots of opportunities to go to Bradenham for various courses depending on the department you work in. The relaxed teaching environment and strong social element make it a fantastic place to learn and network. The experience definitely lived up to the expectations I had after joining the firm.

Location Blog Special – Milton Keynes

Hi everybody. I am Fiona, one of the audit associates from the Milton Keynes office. I have started my role in January 2012 and I am going to share a bit of my life in the Milton Keynes office with all of you.

Milton Keynes office is located on Silbury Boulevard, one of the three main Boulevards in the area. The office is very easy to get to, there is plenty of parking (across the road) and both the train station and shopping centre are within 10 minute walk. We have the whole building to ourselves (well, almost!) and not surprisingly, the building is called ‘Grant Thornton House’. On the ground floor, we have our reception and various meeting rooms. On the first floor and second floor, we have our audit team (including hot desks) as well as our tax, corporate finance and HR teams. The third floor is mainly international tax, marketing and IT but this is also where we have a little break out area where people can sit and have their lunch – we also have a balcony and some benches so people can sit outside when the weather is nice.

The audit department has approximately 70 people, with around 25 trainees. In tax, the department is a bit smaller where we currently have only two trainees though this will be increasing to five from September 2012.

In terms of yearly intake, the Milton Keynes office takes approximately eight graduates and four school leavers in audit and one graduate and two school leavers in tax. Most staff in the office are young and we all get on really well.

The Milton Keynes office is part of the BBHEM business unit (soon to become Central business unit) and we therefore work closely with our Kettering and Leicester offices. We have a wide range of clients, for example, in education, housing associations, motor retailing, charities and other commercial clients. Our office also specialises in auditing pension schemes.

As mentioned above, most of our staff in the office are young, so we do have a lot of social activities. In July we have our office summer party which is amazing! This year we went to the local cricket club and we hired an ice cream van, bouncy castle, rodeo bull and also had a BBQ. The social and sports committee also organise activities like weekly badminton, squash, football, nights out?so it is definitely not all about work here! We also have a Friday ‘dress down’ day in the office.

Milton Keynes itself is a lively city, we have an impressive shopping centre and the ‘Xscape’ indoor skiing centre. Oxford and Cambridge are not that far way either and there are regular fast trains to London Euston.

I moved from a little seaside town called Skegness in Lincolnshire when I started at Grant Thornton. My accommodation is reasonably priced and it is only three miles from the office. In my opinion, the closer you live to the office, the better.

I hope I have given you all a little bit of insight on what life in Milton Keynes and our office is like. If you have any further queries about the office or the area, please don’t hesitate to query in this blog and I’ll be happy to respond.

Open Door Policy

Hi, I’m Lucy and I’ve recently qualified with CTA from the Liverpool office where I work in the tax department.

As part of qualifying with CTA, all newly qualified trainees get the chance to have a day in London where the national leadership board fling the doors open and we get to see the various opportunities which are available to us now we’ve passed our exams.

I managed to get talking to Ian Smart, a member of our national leadership board and London Office Managing Partner (OMP). This was ideal, because I was really interested in his role and our London services. A few days later I bit the bullet and email Ian to see if he could put up with me for a few days…. I wanted to work shadow him!

Ian was really receptive and enthusiastic and thought it was a great idea and agreed with no reservation. So we set the wheels in motion, agreed an appropriate time scale for us both and before I knew it I was at the doors of the London Finsbury Square office ready for my first day of work shadowing.

Of course I was a little nervous, but Ian showed a great interest from the beginning which set my mind at ease. Ian helped me to feel like an equal and show how my development was really important.

Throughout the week I got to take part in some really interesting meetings and got an incomparable insight into the senior levels of our firm. I couldn’t believe what I was able to be involved in; me a newly qualified tax adviser from Liverpool in a London office management meeting! Who would have thought it!?

It truly was an amazing learning experience and also a great opportunity to meet lots of new people in varying positions within the firm, all of whom went out of their way to answer any questions I had and help me meet my objectives.

Having been with other firms I honestly believe this kind of ‘open door’ policy within a professional practice is so rare and its something I am really excited about.

Grant Thornton truly is a place that encourages a curious mind to flourish. The level of transparency across the board contributes to a great learning and working environment giving us all the vital ingredients to help us grow in our careers. All we need to do is ask!

Introducing a New Member: Natalie

Hi, my name is Natalie and I have recently joined the Spilling the Beans team. I am excited to be part of this project and to share my experiences with you and advise wherever possible.

My first day of being involved in the Spilling the Beans team involved a day in the London Euston office meeting many of the staff members involved in trainee recruitment. It was a real eye-opener seeing how many people are involved in securing the right trainees and I am proud to be a part of this team.

Me with the team getting to grips with the site

My advice to any potential applicant is that it is highly important you maximise your use of these many resources which will definitely benefit you whilst completing the application process. For example the recruitment team arranges many events at university career fairs and social events such as career & coffee mornings and career & cocktail evenings which are great opportunities for you to learn more about the firm and meet staff in an informal environment.

Keep your eyes peeled on our events page here and also our Facebook page ‘Grant Thornton Recruitment UK’ to keep up to date with the events we will be hosting in the new university term. In particular the Spilling the Beans team now has a wide range of members from different sectors and locations so feel free to post on the forum to get first hand answers and experiences!

Unlike some of the other Spilling the Beans team members, I completed a 9 week summer internship in the summer between my 2nd and 3rd year of my accounting degree at Cardiff University which was an invaluable experience. Not only did I gain the opportunity to work in different areas of the firm, including both commercial and public sector audit and tax, but I was able to get involved in very different work such as corporate responsibility. This not only gave me a better idea of what role I would like to apply for under a graduate scheme but also allowed me to learn more about Grant Thornton as a firm and the values they have.

I would advise anyone who is considering a career in audit or tax to consider completing an internship as it really allows you to understand what is involved in day to day tasks, and also allows you to experience the things that books and studying do not! I found it was good to have a knowledge of accounting from my degree but using it in my internship required much more work, really putting my understanding to the test. It’s important to note that an accounting or business degree is not necessary for the internship or graduate scheme (in fact people with such degrees are often in the minority!) and you get lots of help and advice along the way and so you won’t be at a disadvantage.

If you have any questions about our summer internships please let me know and feel free to ask away!

Interview with a Partner

If the Spilling the Beans website has taught me anything, it’s that trainee experiences are important. This view is also reflected within Grant Thornton, amongst all members of staff and to keep a record of our experiences nationally, we have the Talent Newsletter. This is a quarterly newsletter which is produced by trainees and published for the benefit of trainees with each business unit taking part over a three year period.

In January 2012 it was down to Bristol, Cardiff and Southampton to step up to the mark. I took the opportunity to be managing editor and along with fellow ‘Beans Spiller’ Will (as well as several other trainees) we have produced a great edition of the newsletter – if I do say so myself.

One of the articles I wrote involved sitting down with Stephen Mills, the Office Managing Partner in Southampton, to discuss several topics such as the firm’s balanced scorecard, the future of Grant Thornton, the work-life balance and career progression.

The great thing about speaking with Stephen is that not so long ago he was a trainee at Grant Thornton and has worked his way to the top of the tree – something I’m sure a number of trainees aspire to. The interview gave some great insight into the firm and is something worth blogging about.

As Stephen is proof that you can start at the bottom and make it to the top, I wanted to know why he stayed at Grant Thornton after completing his training contract. It’s no secret that some trainees use firms to simply obtain a qualification. However, at Grant Thornton, things are slightly different and Stephen explains why.

“To excel, you must constantly venture outside your comfort zone, to push new boundaries and challenge yourself. Throughout my career I found I was able to do this with the constant support of my colleagues” Stephen explains. “It is this supportive culture within Grant Thornton that sets us apart from other firms”.

I couldn’t agree more. I started as a Tax Associate last January and have worked on this website, spent a week in Scotland, been an editor of a newsletter, climbed three mountains and am currently undertaking a secondment in a different department. Throughout all these experiences I have received full support from my colleagues and seniors.

Stephen goes on to comment on Grant Thornton in the current economy and our future as one firm. “Two years ago, when we set ourselves targets for 2012, we knew they would be challenging, but if they’re not challenging there is no point” admits Stephen, “The economy has made for difficult conditions but recently we’ve made strong headway, so much so that we?ve already set an equally ambitious target for 2015”.

These are refreshing comments. In an economy which is stagnant and harsh, the firm is not just looking for survival – it is looking to grow. Our ambition during such a bleak outlook sets us apart from other firms. In times of despair, this progressive drive combined with fantastic internal support makes it an exciting time to be a Grant Thornton trainee.